11 Signs That You Are Dealing With A Control Freak

Signs to look for if you don’t want someone else to hold the rein of your life

Reviewed by Dr Nancy B IrwinDr Nancy B Irwin, PsyD
By Harini NatarajanHarini Natarajan, Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner  • 

There’s a control freak in all of us that comes out in certain situations. But, what are the common signs of a control freak? Is it the “my way or the highway” attitude? Or constructive criticism disguised as trying to help others? In all honesty, control freaks do not even know that they are being that way. They tend to ignore their irrational thoughts or tackling their insecurities. Instead, they try to control people, situations, and (if given the chance) even God’s will! If you have been around a person like this, we empathize with you. Check out the 11 signs of a control freak listed below to learn how to deal with them. Scroll down!

Signs That You Are Dealing With A Control Freak

1. They Are Always Correcting People

Control freaks cannot tolerate mistakes, both their own and of those around them. They feel compelled to obsessively point out and correct the mistakes of the people around them. Mistakes make them angry, frustrated and anxious.

A control freak will correct you whenever they get the opportunity. They will make sure to let you know if you pronounce a word incorrectly or misspell a word in an SMS. They will also point out if you provide an irrational argument. If they think that your social etiquette is off, they won’t even hesitate for a second to let you know – even if that means embarrassing you in public. If you do something inappropriate or wrong, you won’t ever hear the end of it.

However, the one thing you need to understand about this behavior is that control freaks do not do it because they wish to see you improve. Instead, they do it because they think that things should always be done their way, which is the right way – and that they are always right. 

2. Everything Has To Be Done According To Their Schedule

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If they are the kind of person who always gets angry over the slightest change in their plans, they may be a little bit controlling. If they have to have everything in their home in their correct place, as well as have everything done exactly the way that they want it, they might be a control freak. 

3. They Don’t Delegate

Control freaks are extremely poor at delegation. They have a very hard time delegating tasks. They will try to do everything by themselves unless it gets absolutely impossible for them to do it. They think that they are the only qualified one to do something – and that they are the only person who can do it perfectly. They have trust issues. They think that any delegated task will not be done to their satisfaction, regardless of the expertise of the person who does it.

If they are compelled to delegate something, they will go over it thoroughly, trying to find mistakes. If they manage to find a single mistake, they will criticize whoever did the task – and sometimes quite harshly – and overhype their own importance. They may often say things like, “It seems like I am the only one in this entire office who can get anything done.” 

4. They Always Have To Have The Last Word

Controlling woman making sure everyone agrees to what she has to say

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Control freaks firmly believe they know it all. They think that they are more intelligent, practical, and logical than everyone else around them. When they get into an argument, they always have to win, because they believe that anything else rather than their own line of thought is simply wrong. In any case, they have to be the one to put in the last word.

Control freaks want to be the sole ones making the rules and enforcing them. If they don’t get to have the final word in a conflict, they feel that the situation is still unresolved, which, to them, can be a great source of anguish. Controlling people want to be the ones to provide a solution to conclude situations nicely. 

5. They Are Poor Team Players

Working as a member of a team means you have to give up some amount of control to the rest of the members of the team. This is a very difficult thing for controlling people. They don’t like subordination because that denies them the opportunity to exert their control over the rest of the team.

Quick Tip
They never share the credit for their success as they believe the success of team is only possible if they take over the control of the team.

If they do find themselves as a member of a team, they will quickly try and establish themselves as a leader. This provides them the opportunity to dictate the behavior and actions of the rest of the team. 

6. They Can Be Moody

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Control freaks are constantly on edge because they are always stressed by their own failures and frustrations. Sometimes, things don’t go the way one plans them, and when that happens, the desire for perfection can make them experience moodiness, chronic frustration, and stress, which can lead to brooding.

7. They Are Constantly Judging And Criticizing Others

Control freaks are highly critical and judgmental of others. They have their own opinions about everything – from how people should talk, dress, and eat to how they should live their lives. They think their opinions are facts, and anyone who does not agree with their opinions is wrong. No matter what anyone else does, it is never good enough for them. They will always find a reason to criticize it.

Their critical and judgmental behavior can make them come across as hypocritical to those who know them. Controlling people cannot control their own behavior. It is instinctive to them. Talking ill about and demeaning others makes them feel better about themselves. This also has a negative effect on their relationships, as they end up pushing people close to them away with their constant criticism and judgment.

8. They Try To Change Others

Control freaks firmly believe that they are the only ones who are aware of what is best for everyone else. Due to this attitude, they will try as much as they can to get others to do things the way they want them. They will use unique manipulation tactics in an attempt to change others. They will also try to micromanage others to ensure that they behave in accordance with their expectations.

They will sometimes become aggressive if they feel you aren’t doing things their way. They will also offer unsolicited “constructive” criticism under the pretense that they are trying to help and care for you when, in reality, they only want to change your actions to suit their requirements. They will present worst-case scenarios to discourage you from doing anything that they don’t approve of. They may even use “silent treatment” as a passive-aggressive tactic to get you to change your thought process and behavior.

9. They Micromanage Other People

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If a person you know expects to know what everyone around them is doing at all times, you just might be dealing with a control freak. Control freaks are often demanding when it comes to fulfilling their expectations. They want to be CC’d in every mail because they cannot even trust their own team.

10. They Are Often Perfectionists

The obsession with being in constant control of everything could mean they are perfectionists and highly concerned about what others think of them. Their quest for perfection can make things painful because it is most often driven by a desire to do better than others and the fear of not doing well. They think that the only way they can be perfect in their own eyes and in the eyes of others is if they are in constant control over anything and everything.

11. They Never Admit When They Are Wrong

This is no doubt that one of the most annoying traits of a controlling person is – they never admit that they may have made a mistake. It doesn’t really matter how trivial the mistake is, they will never ever admit that they have done something wrong. Instead, they will try to shift the blame to somebody else.

This is hypocrisy because they are the ones who don’t hesitate for a second to chastise anyone else who they think has made a mistake. Since controlling people think they are always right, admitting to a mistake bruises their fragile egos, which they need to protect at all costs. They are afraid that it will make others perceive them as incompetent or foolish if they admit to a mistake – no matter how trivial.

Quick Tip
Such people always hold onto grudges for their entire life, they likely see things in their own way and if they are not allowed to dictate terms for it they will start developing grudges against you.

Now that you know the signs, here’s how you can deal with control freaks.

How To Deal With A Control Freak

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Controlling men and women, those people often referred to as “control freaks,” display a series of behaviors and actions that frustrate other people and cause resentment. These individuals behave the way they do because they firmly believe that they need to do so to meet their requirements and accomplish their goals.

If you see someone displaying these high-control behaviors, you need to stop and ask yourself – are you always exhausted from trying to deal with this particular person? If you know someone who displays these behaviors, it is time to have a chat with them about things that bother you. Otherwise, your resentments may get worse, jeopardizing the relationship.

If you decide to point out to a control freak that you have a problem with them, give them a few definite examples of the actions they take that bothers you — and give them a bit of time to work on changing themselves. Here are a few things you can do to ensure that you maintain your individuality when in a relationship with a control freak:

  • Assert your boundaries.
  • Avoid the person or walk away.
  • Avoid arguing with them.
  • Seek help if necessary.
  • Maintain your calm.
  • Don’t respond to escalating behavior.

It is inevitable that at least at one point in life, you will come across someone who will try to exert their control over you and your life. They will belittle your opinions, criticize you, try to get you to question your own behavior, and micromanage your life. Being in a relationship or around such people can be extremely unhealthy, and in some extreme cases, it can even cause a lot of stress. Thankfully, being around a person who is a control freak does not mean that you have to give in to their wishes, whims, and expectations.

These are some of the signs of a control freak that you should identify in your surroundings. See the red flags and maintain a safe distance from people who display these signs. Remember that your peace of mind is extremely important, and you cannot let a control freak suffocate you and take away your peace from you. Observe the people around you and their behavior towards you. If you think they overwhelm you and are trying to take control of your actions, you can take the necessary steps discussed in the article and escape from their grip.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a narcissistic control freak?

Narcissist control freaks are self-obsessed and seek to control people for personal advantage. They are infamous for employing unfair strategies to obtain and retain this power.

Is a controlling person insecure?

Yes, a controlling person is usually insecure. Controlling behavior is frequently the outcome of the controller’s anxiety or insecurity. They control people to exert control over their environment in an effort to feel better rather than developing good coping mechanisms.

Key Takeaways

  • Perfectionists are those who tend to micromanage people and are also control freaks who want to keep things and people under their control directly or indirectly.
  • They are often times unaware of their trait and may never apologize for their mistakes.
  • Setting clear boundaries and avoiding arguments is important while dealing with a control freak.
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